Three detectives armed with hunting rifles and silencers were patrolling town-owned woods in South Smithfield, The Raleigh News & Sentinel reported. Last year, police killed 25 deer in the neighborhood.
Most residents support the hunt, anxious to keep the deer away from their shrubs.
Using police detectives was adopted by the town as a substitute for a general hunt. Local officials decided that allowing anyone with a hunting license to open fire was too risky.
But some are unhappy. Jim Wilson owns 30 acres in the area.
"They're supposed to be fighting criminals, not pansy-eaters," he said of the police, the newspaper reported.
Joe Folta, a biologist with the state Wildlife Resources Commission, said he had recommended bringing in bow hunters or sharpshooters. But he said the police detectives, while not a method used by any other town, would do the job.